sunny.png
Tuesday October 26th, 2021 1:49PM

EXPLAINER: What does Georgia's new GOP election law do?

By The Associated Press

ATLANTA (AP) — The sweeping rewrite of Georgia's election rules represents the first big set of changes since former President Donald Trump's repeated, baseless claims of fraud following his presidential loss to Joe Biden.

Georgia has been at the center of that storm. Trump zeroed in on his loss in the state, even as two Democrats won election to the U.S. Senate in January, flipping control of the chamber to their party. The 98-page measure that was signed into law Thursday by Republican Gov. Brian Kemp makes numerous changes to how elections will be administered, including a new photo ID requirement for voting absentee by mail.

Republican supporters say the law is needed to restore confidence in Georgia’s elections. Democrats say it will restrict voting access, especially for voters of color. Here's a look at some of the top issues:

CAN THE STATE TAKE OVER LOCAL ELECTION OFFICES?

Much of the work administering elections in Georgia is handled by the state’s 159 counties. The law gives the State Election Board new powers to intervene in county election offices and to remove and replace local election officials. That has led to concerns that the Republican-controlled state board could exert more influence over the administration of elections, including the certification of county results.

One target for intervention could be Fulton County, a Democratic stronghold that contains most of Atlanta. The heavily populated county has been plagued by problems, including long lines, and it is often singled out by Republican officials. Under the law, the board could intervene in up to four counties at a time and install a temporary superintendent with the ability to hire and fire personnel including elections directors and poll officers.

ARE PEOPLE BANNED FROM HANDING OUT SNACKS OR WATER TO VOTERS IN LINE?

The new law makes it a misdemeanor to hand out “any money or gifts, including, but not limited to, food and drink” to anyone standing in line to vote. The prohibition extends 150 feet from a polling place and 25 feet from any person standing in line.

Advocates of the law say they are attempting to crack down on political organizations or advocacy groups trying to influence voters just before they cast a ballot. Critics say it’s cruel and would penalize even nonpartisan groups or individuals for something as simple as giving water to someone waiting in a long line. Democratic state Senate Minority Leader Gloria Butler slammed the proposal Thursday before the bill was signed into law, saying: “They want to make it a crime to bring Grandma some water while she’s waiting in line.”

Polling places would be able to, but not required to, set up self-serve water dispensers for voters.

DOES THE BILL ELIMINATE SUNDAY VOTING?

Republicans had proposed at one time to limit early voting on weekends, a time when many Black churches conduct “souls to the polls” efforts to take congregants to vote. But Republicans reversed themselves, and the measure now expands weekend early voting. Previously, one day of weekend voting was required, with counties given the option of offering more. Now two Saturdays will be required, and counties can offer two Sunday voting days as well. Republicans point to this provision to argue they are actually expanding, rather than restricting, voting access.

“Contrary to the hyper-partisan rhetoric you may have heard inside and outside this gold dome, the facts are that this new law will expand voting access in the Peach State," Kemp said Thursday.

HOW WILL RUNOFFS CHANGE?

Georgia is the only state in the nation that mandates runoff elections between the top two finishers following general elections in which no candidate achieves a majority. Like some other states, Georgia also mandates runoffs for candidates who do not win a majority in a party primary.

The system came under scrutiny from Republicans after Sens. Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff won twin runoffs in January.

The new law shortens the time for runoffs from nine weeks to four, with lawmakers saying the current span is “exhausting” and needs to be shortened to a “more manageable period."

Military and overseas voters will use ranked-choice absentee ballots to rank all possible candidates before a primary or general election, allowing their preferences to be determined in any possible runoff. Georgia only had three weeks before runoffs until 2013, when a federal judge ordered a longer gap to give military and overseas voters more time to return ballots.

The shorter period means less time for early and mail voting. Early voting had lasted three weeks before runoffs. Now early voting would begin “as soon as possible” but no later than the second Monday before the election, possibly leaving as little as five weekdays and no weekend days of early voting. Voters would also have less time to apply for a mail ballot.

No new voters could be registered in the period before a runoff because the registration deadline would be the day before the earlier election.

WHAT'S NEXT?

Three groups filed a lawsuit late Thursday to try to block the law. The New Georgia Project, Black Voters Matter and Rise Inc. say the law violates the First and 14th Amendments of the U.S. Constitution, as well as parts of the federal Voting Rights Act that say states cannot restrict Black voter participation.

“These unjustified measures will individually and cumulatively operate to impose unconstitutional burdens on the right to vote, to deny or abridge the voting rights of Black Georgians, and to deny Black voters in Georgia an equal opportunity to participate in the electoral process and elect candidates of their choice,” says the lawsuit, which is filed against Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger and Georgia's State Elections Board.

Opponents are also looking to Congress, which is considering nationwide voting standards. A Democratic-backed measure passed the House earlier this month, but faces opposition from Senate Republicans wary of a federal takeover of state elections.

The federal proposal would create automatic voter registration nationwide, allow former felons to vote, and limit the ways states can remove registered voters from their rolls. It would expand voting by mail, promote early voting and give states money to track absentee ballots.

  • Associated Categories: Associated Press (AP), AP National News, AP Online National News, Top General short headlines, AP Online Headlines - Washington, AP Online Congress News, AP Elections, General Election News, General Presidential Election News, General Senate Election News, AP Online - Georgia News, AP Elections - Political Conventions
© Copyright 2021 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Christians mark Good Friday, Holy Week under virus woes
For a second year, Christians in the Holy Land are marking Good Friday without the mass pilgrimages usually seen in the Holy Week leading up to Easter because of the coronavirus
4:04PM ( 14 minutes ago )
Fully vaccinated people can travel safely again, CDC says
Add travel to the activities vaccinated Americans can safely enjoy again
4:01PM ( 17 minutes ago )
Man rams car into 2 Capitol police; 1 officer, driver killed
A Capitol Police officer has been killed after a man rammed a car into two officers at a barricade outside the U.S. Capitol and then emerged wielding a knife
3:58PM ( 19 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
Car rams into police at Capitol barricade; officer killed
A Capitol Police officer has been killed after a man rammed a car into two officers at a barricade outside the U.S. Capitol and then emerged wielding a knife
2:54PM ( 1 hour ago )
The Latest: Suspect in crash and shooting at US Capitol dies
Two law enforcement officials tell The Associated Press that the driver who rammed a car into two police officers outside the U.S. Capitol has died after being shot by authorities
2:41PM ( 1 hour ago )
Big effort aims to elect candidates with science backgrounds
A group working to elect candidates with science, technology, engineering and math backgrounds plans to spend $50 million in the 2022 midterm elections
2:38PM ( 1 hour ago )
AP Online Headlines - Washington
Prosecutors examine possible payments for sex in Gaetz probe
Federal prosecutors are examining whether Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida and a political ally who is facing sex trafficking allegations may have paid underage girls or offered them gifts in exchange for sex
12:52PM ( 3 hours ago )
Biden's 'jobs Cabinet' to sell infrastructure as GOP resists
President Joe Biden says Republicans have talked for years about the need to rebuild the nation’s infrastructure and predicts GOP lawmakers will face pressure from their supporters if they don’t act
12:03PM ( 4 hours ago )
AP-NORC poll: Majority in US back easier voter registration
A new survey measuring the popularity of major pieces of sweeping legislation in Congress finds solid support from Americans for Democrats’ proposals to overhaul voting in the U.S. The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research poll found about half of Americans support expanding access to early and mail voting, while about 3 in 10 opposed the ideas and the rest had no opinion
8:00AM ( 8 hours ago )
AP Online Congress News
NYC mayor hopeful Yang in hospital for apparent kidney stone
New York City mayoral candidate Andrew Yang is in the hospital Friday with an apparent kidney stone
9:33AM ( 6 hours ago )
Former California cop leads GOP dream of Newsom recall
The man behind the effort to remove California Gov. Gavin Newsom from office is a retired county sheriff's sergeant who grew frustrated in 2019 with the governor's policies
1:12PM ( 1 day ago )
Dutch PM Rutte fights for his political life in tough debate
Caretaker Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte is fighting for his political life in a bitter parliamentary debate about the country’s derailed process of forming a new ruling coalition
11:47AM ( 1 day ago )
AP Elections
Former SC governor, congressman Sanford joins lobbying firm
Mark Sanford, the former South Carolina governor, congressman and one-time presidential candidate, is going to work for a lobbying firm
5:21AM ( 3 days ago )
Republican announces run for Murkowski’s Alaska Senate seat
An early Republican candidate has announced plans to seek the Alaska U.S. Senate seat that has been held since 2002 by Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski
1:31PM ( 4 days ago )
Former Trump adviser takes prominent role in voting battle
A GOP lawyer who advised former President Donald Trump on his campaign to overturn the 2020 election results is now playing a central role coordinating the Republican effort to tighten voting laws around the country
3:26PM ( 5 days ago )
General Election News
Biden rolls out diverse first slate of judicial nominees
President Joe Biden has named a racially diverse and overwhelmingly female group to federal and other judgeships
3:17PM ( 3 days ago )
Trump's heir? Pence reemerges, lays groundwork for 2024 run
Former President Donald Trump recently rattled off the names of those he viewed as future leaders of the Republican Party, including Sens. Josh Hawley and Ted Cruz along with Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis
5:46AM ( 3 days ago )
Belarus opens terrorism probe against opposition leader
Authorities in Belarus have announced a criminal probe against the nation’s top opposition figure on charges of terrorism
1:20PM ( 4 days ago )
General Presidential Election News
GOP Missouri Attorney General Schmitt running for US Senate
Missouri’s Republican Attorney General Eric Schmitt is running for U.S. Senate
10:02AM ( 1 week ago )
GOP firebrand US Rep. Mo Brooks enters Alabama Senate race
A conservative firebrand and staunch supporter of former President Donald Trump who came under fire for remarks preceding the attack on the U.S. Capitol has joined the Alabama GOP primary field to replace Sen. Richard Shelby
12:00AM ( 1 week ago )
Is Blunt's exit an opening for ex-Gov. Greitens to return?
Eric Greitens’ political future seemed doomed by scandal when he resigned as Missouri governor, but now he appears primed to test whether Sen. Roy Blunt's retirement provides a path for redemption
4:56PM ( 3 weeks ago )
General Senate Election News
Alabama expanding vaccine eligibility to 16 and up on Monday
Alabama will expand vaccine eligibility to everyone 16 and older next week
2:28PM ( 1 hour ago )
NOT REAL NEWS: A look at what didn't happen this week
High profile posts circulating on social media this week included false claims that Georgia's new voting law would make delivering grandma's ballot a crime, and that COVID-19 tests present a cancer hazard
2:06PM ( 2 hours ago )
Alabama expanding vaccine eligibility to 16 and up on May 5
Alabama will expand vaccine eligibility to everyone 16 and older beginning next month
1:03PM ( 3 hours ago )
AP Online - Georgia News
US: Putin approved operations to help Trump against Biden
A declassified intelligence assessment says Russian President Vladimir Putin authorized influence operations to help Donald Trump in last November’s presidential election
7:42AM ( 2 weeks ago )
Former GOP Rep. Doug Ose enters California recall election
Former Republican congressman Doug Ose says he's entering the California recall election aimed at ousting Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom
8:05PM ( 2 weeks ago )
Alaska GOP censures Murkowski, looks for ’22 challenger
The Alaska Republican Party has censured U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski for voting to convict former President Donald Trump at his impeachment trial and now doesn't want her to identity as a Republican when she runs for office
4:47PM ( 2 weeks ago )
AP Elections - Political Conventions
Christians mark Good Friday, Holy Week under virus woes
For a second year, Christians in the Holy Land are marking Good Friday without the mass pilgrimages usually seen in the Holy Week leading up to Easter because of the coronavirus
4:04PM ( 14 minutes ago )
Fully vaccinated people can travel safely again, CDC says
Add travel to the activities vaccinated Americans can safely enjoy again
4:01PM ( 17 minutes ago )
Man rams car into 2 Capitol police; 1 officer, driver killed
A Capitol Police officer has been killed after a man rammed a car into two officers at a barricade outside the U.S. Capitol and then emerged wielding a knife
3:58PM ( 20 minutes ago )
Man charged with 4 counts of murder in California shooting
A man has been charged with murder and attempted murder in the attack at a Southern California office building that left four dead including a 9-year-old boy
3:51PM ( 26 minutes ago )
AP Sources: NCAA has not tested for drugs at championships
The Associated Press has learned that the NCAA has not tested players for performance-enhancing drugs at March Madness and other recent college championships
3:37PM ( 41 minutes ago )